“If I had a popcorn stand on Courthouse Square, I would have a board.” Clay Mathile, former CEO and owner of The Iams Company.
I happen to deeply agree with this statement. We find a significant difference in those organizations we represent that do and do not have a board guiding and challenging their decisions. We also have a passion for introducing leaders to organizations for the purpose of providing outside expertise. These leaders are able to provide direction, vision, strategy and expertise for companies in need.
This introduction, originally published in a blog article in 2014, is just as true today. In fact, a podcast episode from our sister organization, Talent Magnet Institute, touched on this topic a few months ago. The podcast guest, Trevor Steinhauser, worked as an executive in his family business and he emphatically stated “Our board of advisors was invaluable to us. We would absolutely, unequivocally not be here without an outside board of advisors.”
Centennial continues to come alongside organizations that want to add a board of directors to their team. We can provide individuals who bring a fresh perspective that may be missing today. Here are two more testimonies to speak to the value of a board.
A Trusted, Committed Board is Live-Giving
Having great leaders on your board can add tremendous value to your business. Steve Barnett, owner of a small manufacturing business in the aviation and defense supply chain, Indy Honeycomb, cannot overstate the value his board provided to him in the early stages of his business. He found a group of savvy people (or accomplished professionals) who were highly committed to him and his business that they volunteered their time to be on his board.
This is what Mr. Barnett had to say, “The key – which is almost impossible – is to get really smart, really good people and have them work for (the satisfaction and reward of helping/mentoring a highly motivated younger man-risk it all) free. I was paying them nothing for their advice, at first. They had no skin in the game. They would give an entire Saturday once a quarter to me for free. They were just highly committed to me personally. I trusted these guys implicitly. Many people don’t have those kind of people in their life.”
Having a whole team of people with that level of commitment backing you is what business owners need when they have tough decisions to make. When Harvard Business Review surveyed 45 CEOs who have formal mentoring arrangements 71% said they were certain that company performance had improved as a result. Strong majorities also reported that they were making better decisions (69%) and more capably, fulfilling stakeholder expectations (76%).
If Your Board Never Disagrees with You, You Probably Don’t Have the Right Board
You need the kind of board that will stick even when things get tough. Mr. Barnett told us, “There was a notable time when I would go into a meeting with the board and have a PowerPoint agenda ready – the financials, the backorders – I had all the vital statistics prepared. I would present where we were and where we were going… and they would sort of supersede my agenda. They didn’t just stamp my questions and give me answers.
“They would ask questions I didn’t want to hear and give me direction I didn’t want. Once they actually asked me, ‘If you’re not going to listen to what we say why do we come in here and do this?’ It got tense! You have to have a relationship that can weather that, it’s not a milquetoast kinda thing.”
Boards for Non-profit Organizations
And on the non-profit side, having a board is equally important. Jeremy Brown, director of Northern Kentucky Capernaum, told us, “Having an active board is invaluable to organizations. It gives you a lot of differing lenses at the table. The more perspectives and backgrounds you can have when tackling projects or initiatives or whatever it may be, the better the results. The more perspectives you have only enhances the quality of whatever you’re doing.”
“They’re in mission with you. They make the sacrifices necessary to help you get to the ministry goals. The beautiful thing about the Capernaum committee is they are consistently stepping up in many different areas to help our ministry run. And not just run, but to grow and thrive. If there is a need it is met. There are plenty of instances where I needed “x” amount of money to do “x” thing and somebody steps up and does it. It’s pretty incredible to see the way the Lord provides in that way through different people.”
What About You? Do You Have a Board?
Do you know three to five individuals who would be willing to stand by you and/or your organization? You should be looking for individuals who are wise and have opinions that you respect even when they differ from your opinions. Ask yourself who you would want on your side when you’re facing a big decision.
Let us know if we can provide guidance to you if you have an interest in establishing a board. Centennial can help you find the right people to challenge and support you.